Agnes Just Reid papers, 1850-2004

Overview of the Collection

Reid, Agnes Just, 1886-1976
Agnes Just Reid papers
1850-2004 (inclusive)
0.25 linear feet, (1 box)
Collection Number
MS 0365
The Agnes Just Reid papers (1850-2004) consist of a biographical sketch, an oral history transcript (1972), personal correspondence, and biographical sketches and correspondence relating to her mother, Emma Thompson Bennett Just. Included are correspondence and other materials related to the publication of her book Letters of Long Ago.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT

Telephone: 8015818863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

After having four sisters die as babies, Agnes came into the world very much wanted by her mother, father and five brothers. When she was one year old, her family moved into a yellow brick house in Blackfoot, Idaho, where she spent the rest of her life. She grew up in true ranch style, riding horses and driving cattle.

Agnes schooling went as far as the eighth grade, but after skipping High School, she went on to Albion Normal School in Albion, Idaho, and then on to Pocatello Academy to get her teaching certificate. She taught school at Cedar Creek for three years. It was here that she met her husband, Robert E. Reid, whom she married in 1906. They had five sons.

Even as a child, Agnes interest in writing had always been strong. By the time she was old enough to write, she was already writing short stories and poems. As she advanced in school, her talent became more noticeable. At sixteen years old, she sent her first verse to the Idaho Falls Times, but since poetry was not the popular thing at the time, she signed it "Sally." However, the poem was printed, and her career as a writer began.

Not only has she written many short stories and poems, she wrote a column in the Blackfoot newspaper, The Register, for quite a number of years. Many of her poems have been published in The Improvement Era, The relief Society Magazine, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, Utah Magazine, and the New West. Her best known writing is her book Letters of Long Ago, a biography of her mother, Emma Thompson Bennett Just, first published in 1923, and again in 1936 by Caxton Publishers of Caldwell, Idaho.

Agnes was a great companion to all those who knew her. She was genuinely interested in people and her grandchildren found their grandmother easy to confide in. She made everyone feel at ease and was a comfort to be around.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection is divided into two sections. The first contains Agnes Just Reid's personal materials, and the second holds correspondence pertinent to her book, Letters of Long Ago.


These papers are divided into two main groups. The first part is Agnes' life. This includes biographical sketches, an oral history, some of her writings, and personal correspondence with her mother. This includes biographical sketches and personal correspondence with her son, her father, and her cousin Lucy in England. These letters with her cousin are paticularly interesting because they tell a brief history of her life during this time. There are also letters from her father, George Thompson, to his grandsons, and the legal papers declaring her divorce from George Bennett final. George also writes a couple of letters to Emma, begging her forgiveness and asking her to please take him back.


This section is basically correspondence. It contains letters to Caxton Publishers concerning the coyright of Letters of Long Ago, since they published the first edition. There is also correspondence with Dr. Everett L. Cooley concerning another edition (the third), through the Tanner Trust Fund, and miscellaneous correpondence about getting reviews written and some that have already appeared in print. Much of this correspondence is not with Agnes, rather with Dr. Cooley and her son Douglas Reid and others.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library's Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Collection Name, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Organized in two series: I. Personal Materials; II. Letters of Long Ago materials.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Marlene Stibalova in 1972 and 2004.

Processing Note

Processed by Elizabeth Rogers in 2004.

Click here to read a statement on harmful language in library records.

Separated Materials

See also the Agnes Just Reid photograph collection (P0249) in the Multimedia Division of Special Collections.

Related Materials

Forms part of the Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women's Legacy Archives.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 Biographical Sketches of Emma Thompson Bennett Just and Agnes Just Reid
  • Marlene Stibal Reid, "Emma Thompson Bennett Just, 1850-1923"
  • Agnes Just Reid, "Mother," (Biography of Emma Thompson Bennett Just)
  • Agnes Just Reid, "My Heritage," (Biography of Emma Thompson Bennett Just)
  • Bess Foster Smith, "An Overnight Visit to an Idaho Shrine," (Biography of Agnes Just Reid)
  • Marlene Stibal Reid, "Agnes Just Reid, September 7, 1889"
  • Dorothy Clapp Robison, "Golden Hours" (Biography of Agnes Just Reid)
  • (See Fd 19 for an additional biographical sketch of Agnes Just Reid, and Fd 22 for additional biographical and histotical material.)
1 2 Oral History of Agnes Just Reid
  • Oral history was conducted by Brigham D. Madsen and Everett L. Cooley in 1972. Begins with George Thompson, Agnes' grandfather, coming from England to Utah in 1854. Goes on to talk about her mother, her husband, Letters of Long Ago, and experiences with the Mormons and the Morrisites.
1 3 Tranascript of Oral History
  • This is the first draft of Agnes Just Reid's Oral History.
1 4 Magazine and Newspaper Clippings
  • Discussing the Agnes Just Reid Scholarship, some of her writings, and views of the Blackfoot Valley.
1 5 Writings
  • Poems, "Fellowship," "Dear Santa Claus," "Home," "My Christmas Wish," "Autumn Leaves"
  • Short Story "Christmas Dinner in the Seventies," a story about getting a turkey for Christmas dinner.
1 6 Correspondence from George Thompson
  • Contains one letter to Emma, and fourteen letters to grandsons.
  • December 25, 1885
  • "My Dear Emma...All is well with us. Christmas is quiet with us...I am delighted with the...dear little wishes for health, wealth and happiness..."
  • The remaining fourteen letters are written to his grandsons in a very warm manner, similar to that of Emma's letter. Seven of the fourteen letters are written specifically to Fred, the oldest grandson, and the remaining seven are to all of the grandsons. Some letters have xeroxes copies in Fd 7.
1 7 Photocopies of letters from George Thompson to grandsons
  • Only the fragile letters from Fd 6 were copied.
1 8 Correspondence from Fred Bennett to Agnes Just Reid
  • October 24, 1883
  • Talks about his schooling and jobs. Also asks to pay for blankets his father sent. Fred is fourteen years of age at this time.
  • December 30, 1899
  • Tells Agnes he is going to be married soon, and describes his anticipation and hopes for the future.
1 9 Correspondence from Emma Thompson Bennett Just
  • (1 original, 1 photocopy, 1 transcript)
  • Describes a trip, March 19, 1906
  • "...stopped at Grants Pass last night...stopped at Shasta Soda Springs...snow in many places...He [dad] and S. J. are in such a splutter they started to meet the train...we have something the matter with us, have stopped, are sounding our alarm now to keep out of danger...All O. K. now...A place called Hugo...May stop at a horse and buggy at Irving...will go tomorrow to catch the same train we got off today, will take the buggy back then..."
1 10 Letters to Cousin Lucy from Emma Thompson Just
  • January 21, 1862-Ogden, Utah Territory
  • "...I have wanted to write since we came to America...Each day since I left England and you, I have wished that you had come with us...You are the only person back there that I can remember...We came across the plains more easily than some did...I remember some Indians who came and looked into our wagon and begged for things..."
  • July 6, 1862-Soda Springs, Idaho Territory
  • "...Poor mother, she is often unhappy..."
  • December 11, 1864
  • "...The country is full of Indians so that it is unsafe for a few families to try to make a new settlement and the United States Government sent this company of soldiers to protect us..."
  • April 22, 1865-Soda Springs, Idaho Territory
  • "...I am married...maybe fifteen is too young but my husband, George Bennett is twenty- eight so if we waited for me to be older, he would have been older too...I knew that George was my soldier from the minute I saw him..."
  • December 20, 1865-Fort Douglas, Utah Territory
  • "...moved again...There were no quarrels, no drunkeness, no bickering at Soda Springs, here we find all of these things...The Mormon people are thrifty, industrious people and frown on anything disorderly but even they do something I can never believe is right. The men have more than one wife..."
  • October 15, 1866-Lincoln Valley, Idaho Territory
  • "...My mother is heartbroken and I think she is not well, besides...Father promises that he will take her back to England. I think he would like to stay on here but he is convinced now that she will never be contented..."
  • November 30, 1876-Helena, Montana Territory
  • "...We have moved...kept station for a short time at Ross Fork...while we there my mother and father came from Soda Springs...ready to start to England. My little sister Lizzie had died the winter before leaving my poor mother again with no one but me. She was so sad, and wanted us to go back with them so we gladly agreed to do it...We would meet here at go down the Missouri river together...we must have missed them. They must be back in England by now...It may be that when they got back to the boat, it was ready to start and they figured that we would be on the next boat...I cannot understand it, though, my father is the kind of man that keeps his word...I think, if he were alive, he would have come..."
  • September 22, 1868-Deer Lodge, Montana
  • "...word came that my mother had died on her way back to her loved ones...George has been drinking...we are going to have a baby..."
  • January 21, 1869-Deer Lodge Montana
  • "Things went well for a while...Then he [George] began to drink and to gamble...Finally, crazed with drink, he robbed his employer, stole a horse from the stable where he worked and left town..."I found myself deserted by my husband four months before I was to become a mother...he was soon overtaken and is now in jail...friends took me in...These good people want me to get a have a husband in jail is not disgraceful enough, I must still ask for a divorce...I know they are right..."
  • April 30, 1869-Deer Lodge, Montana
  • "I have my baby, a lovely son...When the baby was three weeks old, his father came to see us...He looked bewildered, then he realized the child he married had become a woman...The divorce will be a simple matter...I have decided the call him [the baby] Fred..."
  • September 14, 1869-Deer Lodge, Montana
  • "...Aunt Jane, the only relative I have on this side of England...and Uncle Joe is coming for me...I must begin a new life...I have my divorce...Perhaps the unkindest thing George did was keep me from seeing my father and mother as they passed through on their way to I firmly believed, he [George} was dodging them...He did not want to go back to England..."
  • September 1, 1870-Lincoln Valley, Idaho Territory
  • "...My uncle came to Montana and brought me back with him late last fall...I have been working from four in the morning until ten at night...It has been good for me. The ache in my feet helps me to forget the ache in my heart...I am going to marry again...My circumstances are that I have a son and I want him to have a home...This young man was boarding with my aunt when I came from Montana...and fell in love with me the minute we met, but one thing is lacking. I do not love him...He says that his love [is] great enough for both of us...I have been truthful with him..."
1 11 Emma Thompson Bennett Divorce Papers and Related Correspondence
  • Legal document declaring divorce final; letters from George begging Emma to take him back:
  • April 24, 1869
  • "...Oh Emma, do not cast me from your heart...I pray of you to forgive everything, let the past be burned..."
  • October 23, 1869
  • "...let me know if you will receive money from me for the support of yourself and child..."
1 12 James R. Just, "The Dreamer"
  • A fictional story of the Mormon-Morrisite War as seen through Agnes's eyes. However, James R. Just (Agnes's great nephew) wrote it based on "actual circumstances of the incident." Also, correspondence relating to this manuscript with James R. Just and Everett L. Cooley.
1 13 Copyright Correspondence-Caxton Publishers
  • Correspondence and copyright materials relating to the first edition of Agnes Just Reid's book Letters of Long Ago.
1 14 Printing Agreements for Letters of Long Ago
  • Book printing agreements with the Tanner Trust Fund for Letters of Long Ago.
1 15 Correspondence with Brigham D. Madsen
  • September 29,1972
  • Thanks him for the book he sent her by Annie Tanner and lists some events of her life.
  • October 4, 1972
  • Thanks Dr. Everett Cooley and Cr. Brigham D. Madsen for the book by Annie Tanner and comments how it makes her wonder to the right or wrong of polygamy.
  • November 7, 1972
  • Discusses the document from old Oneida County. She tells how her mother burned the few letters from her husband and her marriage certificate.
1 16 Correspondence eiyh Della Dye
  • Three from Marlene Reid:
  • Tuesday-Planning a trip to see Della.
  • November 18, 1974-Thanks to Della for a wonderful trip and talks about the taping of Agnes (The oral history in Fd 2).
  • August 26, 1972-Thanks for the letter (which she showed Agnes). Also talks of Aunt Mamie.
  • Two from Agnes Just Reid:
  • Asks Della to come for a visit and sends a map to her house (included).
  • August 26, 1972-Thrilled at letter to Marlene. Mentions copyright now available for Letters of Long Ago.
1 17 Correspondence with Everett L. Cooley
  • Personal correspondence and letters pertaining to the printing of Letters of Long Ago through the Tanner Trust Fund. Also talks of receiving reviews of the book from various people. Christmas card included with a poem by Agnes Just Reid.
1 18 Correspondence-Everett L. Cooley and Douglas Reid
  • Discusses the printing of Letters of Long Ago: How many copies, date to be completed, costs, etc. Also lists possible reviewer's names and discusses reviews already made. There is a little personal correspondence (visits, health, etc.)
1 19 Correspondence-Everett L. Cooley and Mrs. Bess Foster Smith
  • Correspondence relating to reviews from Letters of Long Ago and sending materials to be added to the Agnes Just Reid Collection. There is a biographical sketch of Agness by Ann Hansen (a roommate with Agnes in the Albion State Normal School.). This sketch captures her [Agnes] inner self rather than the life story. Also included is a manuscript entitled "The Beginning" (author unknown).
1 20 Correspondence-Everett L. Cooley and Mabel Hutchinson (Agnes's niece)
  • Writes concerning Emma Thompson Reid's letters to cousin Lucy (Fd 11). She wants them published. Dr. Cooley feels they should have been published in Letters of Long Ago, and feels they cannot be published as is because of the expense. Also gives some genealogy of the family.
1 21 Miscellaneous Correspondence
  • Marlene Reid to Everett L. Cooley
  • Brief Biographical Sketch
  • Everett L. Cooley to Mr. Oboler (from Idaho State University)
  • Three letters regarding a review for Letters of Long Ago.
  • James L. Cotton to Everett L. Cooley
  • Regarding a review for Letters of Long Ago.
  • Everett L. Cooley to/from Mr. Swisher.
  • Regarding a review for Letters of Long Ago.
  • Everett L. Cooley to Copyright office
  • Wants information on the status of Letters of Long Ago.
  • Charlotte W. Crockett to Everett L. Cooley
  • Regarding a review for Letters of Long Ago.
  • (Margery Ward?) to Agnes Just Reid
  • Sending reviews received for Letters of Long Ago.
1 22 Biographical Sketches and Poems
  • Includes biographical sketches of Nels Just, a reminiscence of the Blackfoot River by Walter and Marlene Stibalova Reid, and reprints of two books of poems by Agnes Just Reid.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Authors and publishers
  • Children of divorced parents--West (U.S.)--19th century--Archives
  • Divorced mothers--West (U.S.)--19th century--Biography
  • Frontier and pioneer life--West (U.S.)--Sources
  • Women authors, American--Utah--Archives
  • Women biographers--Utah--Archives
  • Women pioneers--United States--Interviews
  • Women pioneers--West (U.S.)--Biography

Personal Names

  • Cooley, Everett L.--Archives
  • Reid, Agnes Just, 1886-1976--Archives

Form or Genre Terms

  • Biographies
  • Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
  • Manuscripts
  • Oral histories
  • Personal correspondence
  • Poetry